The most egregious lie told during the run up to the European referendum, was the message plastered across the battle bus of the Vote Leave Campaign: ‘We send £350M per week to the EU; let’s fund our NHS instead’. It was pointed out endlessly to the leavers during the weeks before the referendum, that since Thatcher’s success in getting an EU rebate, the amount sent to Europe each week, our ‘club membership fee’, was actually £250M. Knowing the parlous state of NHS finances, how many older voters, I wonder, were swung by the £350M argument?
Furthermore, there would be a ‘divorce bill’ that would have to be paid; this was, ‘accidentally’, never mentioned by Vote Leave. The latest estimate for this bill is £39 billion, three years’ worth of our contributions.
Boris Johnson and his friends never dared to mention this to the country, although they must have known that the UK would have substantial financial liabilities, and that they would have to be honoured if the country wanted to retain its credit rating in world finance. I seem to recall Boris himself, when asked point-blank to justify the £350M which was really £250M, waffling in a good-natured way, saying something like ‘the principle was sound if the detail was wanting.’ I paraphrase; I can’t be sure it was him.
The leave group were entirely justified in campaigning to leave the EU for the deeply held reasons they had – although I wonder how deeply held Boris’s were, since he famously took a weekend to make up his mind which way to go, and, it is alleged, wrote two articles for publication in the Daily Telegraph – one in favour of staying, one for leaving. What ‘Leave’ were not entitled to do, was lie to the British Public. That was unforgiveable. Boris was the highest profile Leaver, very eloquent, entertaining and credible when speaking on the subject, and, I suspect, might even have made the difference in persuading many waverers to vote leave.
This is the man who aspires to be our Prime Minister. An opportunist who appears never to shrink from mendacity when it suits his purpose, and, one suspects, his purpose is the greater glory of none other than Boris Johnson.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs